The Chicago Cubs could use some pitching this offseason — look no further than NPB hurler Kodai Senga of the Fukuoka Softback Hawks.
One offseason after winning the rights to NPB slugger Seiya Suzuki, Chicago may be able to do the same with Senga, an ace in Japan’s major league.
Suzuki has acclimated fairly well to MLB by now, but it wasn’t without his own struggles. With a slashline of .252/.321/.428, Suzuki month-to-month statistics show the story of a player who started hot, but struggled to adjust to minor changes opposing pitchers made to face him.
Cubs: Kodai Senga fit makes a lot of sense
A player like Senga would surely face many of the same challenges. International players often find success in MLB right away, but struggle to adjust once scouting catches up with them.
Bleacher Nation outlined Senga’s game in their recent article connecting him to Chicago:
"“This season (2022), Senga has a 2.05 ERA over 16 starts and 105.1 IP. He’s struck out a massive 115 batters during that stretch (28.1 K%) while walking just 33 (8.0%), and batters are having a very hard time finding grass when they do put the ball in play (just 74 hits). But he’s far from a one-hit wonder.”"
Senga has been at it for years in Japan, and even has experience facing MLB hitters in the World Baseball Classic. If he wanted to make the jump to the United States, though, it has to be now — he’ll be 30 years old by the time next season starts.
As for the Cubs, they need some pitching help behind the likes of Marcus Stroman, who they acquired last year. Senga has been a top-5 pitcher in Japan for much of the last decade.
Chicago, perhaps being able to recruit him with a dose of familiarity, already has an edge.